Vivek Wallace Presents: 'OPEN MIC FAN MAIL': BERNARD HOPKINS - More
Every Wednesday ESB will feature this segment with a new published letter directly from hardcore fight fans just like you, and a response directly from Boxing Scribe Vivek Wallace! For those who don't like what the average boxing scribe has to say, there's only one way to change that........SOUND OFF! Send all 'Open Mic Fan Mail' letters to firstname.lastname@example.org, and remember, keep content short and concise, profanity free, and don't hold back.....the floor (and mic) is yours! Today's letter comes to us from Michael W. (Charlotte, NC):
Article posted on 06.10.2010
Every time we look at the P4P rankings we see the same names with guys like Mayweather, Pacquiao, Marquez, and who ever else. I read an article of yours a while back where you gave your definition of the term P4P and explained how it compares to what we see out there now days which is (what you called) more of a popularity contest. In your article you touched on a few of the guys who should be part of the list despite limited popularity, style-marketability, etc., and you pointed at one of my all-time favorites, Bernard Hopkins.. Maybe some people can say that at this point he's too old and that he shouldn't be considered too highly on the list, but when you look at his complete body of work, his resume is just as good as any of the guys out there today and his list of accomplishments is far greater.
I think he has done as much as Pacquiao, he isn't undefeated, but I think you can add Mayweather in there, and although he lost to Jones and wasn't nearly as athletic, I think he has just as much talent, just of a different variety. It sucks that in his older age he is just now getting his due, but I think you were right in including him in your list, and personally, I agree with you that he is one of the fighters that should have been considered for "Fighter of the Decade". I appreciate the fact that you considered him, rather than jumping on the bandwagon of some of these guys today who haven't been nearly the warrior he has. I think he has been just as important to the sport as anyone over the past 30 years and I'd like to know why do you think he has failed to really make a splash with the fans and how you think his ultimate legacy will read?
Much like yourself, I've been a huge supporter of Hopkins over the years. I also agree that any true hardcore fight fan out there would be hard-pressed to find another fighter who wears the "warrior" nameplate better, or has accomplished as much in the sport. Hopkins' 20 straight defenses at the middleweight level is a thing of beauty, yet rarely do you ever hear many give him his props. Another big stat that appears little in the eyes of many, (as it always slips through the cracks when articles are written), is the feat of being an undisputed champion! When you skim down the list in recent times, absent are all the guys who you'd think would be there (Mayweather, Pacquiao, Mosley, etc.), yet present are a few guys you probably think wouldn't (Hopkins, Judah, Winky Wright, and David Haye). Each of these men were able to accomplish this rare feat, and each of them all found themselves on my P4P list of the past at one point or another, yet rarely do any of them make the common P4P list today, because their style wasn't always fan-friendly, (exception to Judah and Haye).
Now, as it relates to Hopkins' worthiness of being added to today's P4P list, again, me judging things the way I do, I'd still have to put him top 5, because I don't know anyone who can do what we've seen him do where we see him doing it (age 45). Fight fans use the adage "styles make fights" all day every day, yet they don't wanna acknowlege it when comes to Hopkins facing two men who were older, but still damn dangerous and still faster than 95% of their competitors, even in their older age (Joe Calzaghe/Roy Jones Jr.). It's a double standard, without question. I don't expect many to place him that high on the list, but I would. Regarding the whole "Fighter of the Decade" award scenario, I think he should have gotten consideration, but unfortunately, like many votes in life, it's more "flava of the month" than "resume over the years"..... hate to get political, but we just saw this play itself out in the last Presidential election!
I won't say that Pacquiao didn't deserve it, but when he was just starting to face the Barrera's, Morales', and Marquez's of the world, Hopkins was knee deep in a championship defense bid that remains legendary and was defeating equivalent competition while doing it! Critics can't mention the catchweight with ODH as an asterisk for Hopkins, because Pacquiao (who won the award) has more than one, and Mayweather is undefeated with no catchweight fights; so things really get dicey there, but it's all relevant! The last thing I'd like to address is your question about his legacy and "how do I think it will ultimately read"? Being that we're in the midst of a new NFL season, it would be quite fitting to use an NFL analogy to make a statement. To make sure even the blind can see my point, I'll present it in "high definition"! If asked to compare Hopkins to an NFL legendary quarterback, most would say Favre based on them both being older than most of their contemporaries and still doing an adequate job; but truth is, there's two other guys I plan to use to get across my point.
Tom Brady and Joe Montana will both go down as legendary Hall-of-Famer's, but their road to this highly coveted destination will vary quite a bit. In Joe Montana, you have a well coveted prospect, capped off by an amazing performance in the "Cotton Bowl" of '79 when the sick quarterback was forced to take intravenous fluids and eat chicken soup at half-time, only to lead his team to a last minute victory. One other point to note with Montana was that he had primary weapons (Craig, Rice, Taylor, Clark, etc.) that he was able to evolve with for consecutive years.
With Brady, you have a man who was viewed as nothing special, (6th round draft pick), who wasn't expected to make any waves in the sport, and even when he did, he had to do so with tools that look less like weapons and more like questions! WHEN IT ALL BOILS DOWN, LIKE TOM BRADY, BERNARD HOPKINS HAS DONE FAR MORE USING FAR LESS, (athletic talent), YET SOMEHOW MANAGED TO ACCOMPLISH THE SAME GOALS AS THOSE MOST OF US WOULD CONSIDER TO BE HIS MEASURING STICK. His worst career move may have been saying he'd "never lose to a white-boy", but consider this......he may fight like an Ordinary "Joe" (Montana), but this is one time he probably won't mind being called an Uncle "Tom" (Brady) - (pun intended). The Brady comparison is a shoe that truly fits!
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at email@example.com, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).
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